A pop up fruit stall on the Lend Lease construction site of the Sunshine Coast Public University Hospital has been providing workers with a healthy start to their day thanks to an initiative by Nicky McMillan from steel fabrication company Regson Fabrication.

With a $40,000 grant from the Department of Justice and Workplace Health and Safety Queensland, Nicky has been taking the healthy eating message to those in the building and construction industry.

“There are currently up to 700 workers on -site at the public hospital and I wanted to let them know that healthy eating is easy, said Nicky, you can get your energy naturally from fruit, rather than energy drinks, coffee and chocolate bars.”

“We started with educational workshops, but found it wasn’t ideal as the guys had to get time off the tools to attend, so we started handing out pieces of fruit near the canteen.”

The fruit stall proved so popular that Nicky ended up handing out 100 kilograms of fruit each week to more than 150 workers from 25 different companies on the construction site.

“To get the health message across you have to build relationships and earn trust, no one wants to be lectured. When you hand out pamphlets you know they are likely to end up in the bin. Instead I turned up at 5.30am every morning and said ‘Here, have a banana, it will see you through the morning’.

“I was handing out 50kgs of bananas a week, they proved the most popular piece of fruit because they taste good and are easy to eat on the run.

“Handing out the fruit gave us a chance to talk to the guys about their diet, and we could see that over time it really got them thinking and helped them to make better food choices.

“Towards the end I even had guys showing me their lunch boxes; you wouldn’t get that unless you had earned their trust and built up a relationship. We had lots of regulars at the stall and the feedback from the guys was really positive.

Nicky said she is pleased with the success of the fruit stall, which turned out to be a much bigger project than she ever imagined, with fruit supply and logistics becoming a major consideration.

The fruit stall initiative ran for six months and Nicky is looking to secure further funding to see it continue.

Nicky brought in ConNetica Consulting to roll out the fruit stall and other health initiatives, with support from Lend Lease who provided access to the canteen area, and promoted the initiative during Toolbox Talks and sending SMS reminders to site workers.

“As one of the contractors on-site we [Regson Fabrication] take the health of our workers seriously and want to show there are easy ways to make healthier choices when it comes to your food.

A previous health initiative saw Nicky and her team working closely with the on-site canteen to offer healthy food.

“We worked with the canteen to provide healthy food options like Mexican rice which the guys could taste at lunch. We handed them cooking packs which included tins of kidney beans, spices and a recipe so they could try cooking at home.

Nicky has even had men coming along to yoga classes.

“The pop-up fruit stall shows that a simple idea can make a big difference."

View original article in CSQ's On Site Magazine